Breaking the Stereotype: One Customer At A Time

Not too long ago I came across a quote from Warren Buffett and it really resonated with me, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” In the automotive industry there is an unfortunate stigma that follows us, and each day is an opportunity to prove that we aren’t the stereotypical car dealer. We not only want to help you buy a car; we want you to enjoy the process!

Across all of our dealerships we see roughly 50,000 people each month. Some come in looking for a new or used vehicle and others come in to service their current vehicle. Whatever the reason is, it is our goal to provide each and every guest with exceptional customer service. Many times our customers share their experiences online. In this digital age, online reviews have largely taken the place of the word-of-mouth referrals. With the ability to share your experience with hundreds of thousands of people with just the stroke of a key, it is critical that we handle every guest with the utmost care. This has always been the most important thing we do, so fortunately, we haven’t had to change much of anything.

Our dealerships’ reputation and online reputation is a critical factor in breaking the stereotype. With 93% of car shoppers going online before they make a purchase, having our customers share their stories is important to us.

Today the average car buyer visits an average of 21 different websites during their research process. Some of those websites being Edmunds, Cars.com, DealerRater and most popularly, Google. With over 11,000 reviews on DealerRater, some of our dealerships were recognized as “Dealer of the Year” for their respective brands, recognition awarded by DealerRater. On Edmunds, we have over 1,000 customer reviews which have led most of our dealerships to win the “5 Star Dealer Award”, which is awarded annually by Edmunds.

On Google we have nearly 3,000 customer reviews! We realized that so many of our customers and potential customers were going to Google during their shopping experience, so we wanted to make their experience even better with us. In order to do so, we recently started incorporating Google Virtual Tours. These tours give you a 360 degree view of our dealerships, their showrooms, service drives, customer lounges and more. With 12 dealerships live on Google already, we hope to have the rest filmed by the end of the Fall.

Our focus will continue to be on providing exceptional customer service, quality vehicles, and unparalled service. We hope our efforts will earn a 5-Star recommendation from you.

Herb

The Herb Chambers Companies – Celebrating The Boston Globe’s “Top Places to Work”

I am so proud to inform you that The Herb Chambers Companies were recognized among The Boston Globe’s Top Places to Work again this year. That was our sixth award, winning every year since these awards have been given. This year we ranked second in the Largest Employer category (those with over 1,000 employees) up from fifth place in 2013. We were selected from 1,660 employers who participated in the survey, and are the only automotive dealer ever to have received this award, and now we’ve earned it six times.

For me, the most gratifying aspect of this recognition is that it is our employees who nominated us. They then completed surveys from the Globe focused on all aspects of their employment, outlining why we are a great company for which to work.

Throughout the last 29 years, we’ve built a business with over 2,200 team members who do their utmost every day in vehicle sales and leasing, service, parts, finance, administration, maintenance and management to deliver outstanding customer service. Our primary focus is to create the best possible experience with every client contact.

I am often asked why our employees are so positive about our Company. I believe that customer satisfaction begins with employee satisfaction. That is my focus every day. We want to give all team members the environment, resources, compensation and benefits that bring out their passion for excellence and let their motivation shine through to clients.

Besides our industry-competitive salaries and great medical and dental benefit programs, every one of our 54 dealership facilities is state-of-the-art and always, shining. Our work environment is very important, not only for our employees but for our thousands of customers. If a place is welcoming, clean, well-lit, temperature-controlled, comfortably-furnished and filled with exciting products and the most knowledgeable, caring employees to assist you; that’s a winning combination. We also take our employee training and development courses very seriously, because in order to be successful in life and work, listening and communicating well are two very important skills. These two traits will take anyone far no matter where they work, but nowhere are these traits more important than at the Herb Chambers Companies. Clients can’t feel well-served if they can’t be understood, can’t trust our team, or can’t get the right information about any one of our 32 brands and hundreds of vehicle models available.

We will always greet you with a welcoming smile. Simply put, we want to make people feel appreciated for doing business with us, because I appreciate every customer and have deliberately set our customer service standards extremely high. We have a saying around here that ‘every vehicle is purchased one at a time’, and behind every one of those sales should be a happy customer. We know that you have choices, thank you for choosing us.

Do we always try to deliver 100% satisfaction? I would say unequivocally “yes”.

But we’re human and we make mistakes on occasion. Considering our service bays see about 350,000 vehicles a year, to have every one of these appointments go perfectly in every way would be remarkable. However, when issues arise, we take care of them. More often than not, we overcompensate. We know that we’ll have greater customer loyalty down the road, if we always make it right.

A big part of our employees’ satisfaction and success is the growth opportunities we provide. At The Herb Chambers Companies we create hundreds of new opportunities every year. Recently, we purchased the Audi dealership in Brookline on Rte. 9. We’ve signed agreements for a new Lincoln dealership on the Automile, and we’re building a magnificent new Lexus dealership on Derby Street in Hingham. And as we enter 2015, we have additional growth planned. Our people know that they have not come on board for a great place to work, but also a great place to grow with the opportunity to build a great career.

We’ve enjoyed a very successful year in 2014. I want to thank our employees, automobile partners and most importantly, you, our loyal clients, for making that happen. In 2015 we will continue to improve our business. We will continue to try to improve our service to our clients and, yes, we will continue to grow

Recalls, Recalls, & More Recalls

It’s official! 2014 is already the worst year in history for vehicle recalls. Through October, about 52 million vehicles – that’s roughly one out of every five vehicles registered in the U.S. – have been called back by their manufacturers for safety-related defects. This total has already blown away the previous all-time high of 30.8 million units recalled in 2004. With two months left on the calendar, 2014 could easily double the previous record. Manufacturers are announcing approximately two recalls every day!

So what is going on? Have automobile manufacturers forgotten about product quality? Absolutely not. What has prompted the surge is a much higher level of scrutiny and catching up on problems that should have been addressed years ago by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Consider the the most recent big recall affecting 2000 to 2008 model-year vehicles equipped with airbag inflators built by Japanese supplier Takata.

NHTSA is currently under investigation by the Department of Transportation at the direction of the Obama Administration. That investigation was prompted by General Motors’ February recall of 2.6 million small cars for a deadly ignition switch defect. According to the New York Times, NHTSA “failed to act on multiple reports and hundreds of consumer complaints about vehicles suddenly stalling.”

What should you do?

The first thing to do is determine whether your vehicle has an open recall. When a recall is issued, the manufacturer is required to contact every owner of record for that particular model by mail. Too many consumers tend to mistake recall announcements for junk mail. Additionally, if you bought your vehicle pre-owned, the manufacturer may not know that you are the current owner and you may not receive a notice. Fortunately, NHTSA has set up a free website at http://www.safercar.gov where you can simply enter your car’s vehicle identification number (or VIN). The vehicle VIN is noted both on the title and can also be found at the dashboard on the driver’s side of the vehicle, or on the driver’s side door on the door post. The NHTSA website above will list any unresolved recalls, or if there are none, it will simply state, “No Open Recalls.”

You can also register your vehicles with NHTSA and be contacted automatically if a safety issue is discovered, via the downloadable “Vehicle Recalls” app for Apple iOS and Android phones. This free app also enables you to submit complaints to NHTSA regarding possible safety concerns with your vehicle.

If you have an open recall, you should contact your Herb Chambers dealership and schedule an appointment to bring the vehicle to us as soon as possible. Making an appointment is important. In some cases the manufacture requires that we examine your vehicle first and place the order for the proper replacement parts. In other cases they may send us a supply of replacement parts in advance. Either way, our Service Advisors will be able to let you know exactly what the procedure and timetable will be when your appointment is made.

You should also know that you will not be charged for any recall-related repairs. If the recall involves the vehicle’s tires, you must have the issue addressed within 60 days upon receiving notification. While performing any recall repair, we also top off all of your fluids and conduct a complementary multi-point inspection of the vehicle. Additionally, in each of our dealerships (where permitted by the city or town) we will wash and vacuum the vehicle at no charge.

Recalls should not be ignored. According to the used-car title search company Carfax, last year more than 3.5 million used cars hit the market with unresolved recalls on their records. That number is expected to swell exponentially during 2014.

I hope you find this information helpful. Your safety is very important to us. You can contact any of our dealerships at any time if you have additional questions or concerns. Thanks for allowing us to serve you.

Herb